Jawbone (company)

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Jawbone
Industry Consumer electronics
Founded December 1, 1999 (1999-12-01) (As Aliph)
Founder Alexander Asseily
and Hosain Rahman
Headquarters San Francisco, California,, U.S.
Key people
Alexander Asseily (Chairman)
Hosain Rahman (CEO)
Yves Behar (Designer)
Products
Services
Website www.jawbone.com

Jawbone is an American privately held consumer technology and wearable products company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops and sells wearable technology such as wristbands and portable audio devices, wireless speakers, Bluetooth headsets, and related technology. Jawbone markets its wearable products as part of the Internet of things.[1][2][3]

History[edit]

Alexander Asseily and Hosain Rahman, who met as Stanford University undergraduates, founded Aliph (which would later become Jawbone) around 1999 in San Francisco.[4]

Aliph[edit]

An early headset from 2007

According to later legal documents, the company was originally called AliphCom and formed in March 1998 during the dot-com bubble.[5] In 2002, Aliph won a contract with DARPA, the U.S. military’s research arm, to research ways for combat soldiers to communicate with each other in difficult conditions.[6] The pair began to develop a mobile phone headset designed to suppress background noise.[7] After undisclosed seed funding, about $1.5 million was raised in June 2002.[5]

In 2006, Aliph released a YouTube demonstration of a wireless version of its Jawbone headset and announced that Yves Béhar would be hired as vice president and creative director.[8] The company’s earliest venture capital investor was the Mayfield Fund, which invested $0.8 million in December 2006.[9] In January 2007, Aliph revealed its wireless Jawbone headset at the Consumer Electronics Show.[10] In July 2007, Khosla Ventures made a $5 million investment in the company.[11]

Expansion (2008 to 2010)[edit]

At the beginning of 2008, Aliph received another major investment of $30 million from Sequoia Capital.[12] Aliph announced another Bluetooth headset in May 2008.[13][14] New Jawbone became available for sale at the Apple Store for the first time in the summer of 2008.[15] Aliph promoted New Jawbone by offering a $20 discount to drivers who had been cited for using mobile phones while driving after the state of California passed legislation to ban the use of handheld phones for drivers.[16]

In April 2009, Aliph announced a third edition of its Bluetooth headset, Jawbone Prime.[17]

In January 2010, Aliph announced the Jawbone Icon, and software for users to customize their Jawbone device with free applications and updates. Users may plug a Jawbone device into a computer and add apps that adjust the tone or language of the voice announcements made by the headset, or reprogram the "talk" button.[18] The company announced collaboration with Cisco Systems to use its software and devices with Cisco’s IP phones. The partnership included an exclusive Jawbone Icon for Cisco Bluetooth headset.[19]

In 2010, Aliph released its first non-headset product, Jambox: a compact, wireless, Bluetooth speaker and speakerphone[20] that by 2011 became one of the company’s best-selling products.[21] Like Jawbone’s headsets, Jambox had software that can be customized and updated.[20] In December 2010, the Jawbone was named a design of the decade from the Industrial Designers Society of America.[22]

New name (2011)[edit]

Throughout 2011, Jawbone closed three different rounds of funding – first securing a $49 million investment from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz in March,[23] then $70 million from a group of investors advised by JP Morgan Asset Management,[24] and finally closing out the year with an announcement of $40 million combined from Deutsche Telekom, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, private investor Yuri Milner, and investors advised by JP Morgan Asset Management.[25]

In January 2011, the company released its fifth Bluetooth headset, Jawbone Era, and dropped the name Aliph to officially adopt its “Jawbone” moniker.[26] Later that year, Jawbone unveiled a new Bluetooth headset concept, Icon HD + The Nerd. The company also announced its Companion for Android app, which allows Android mobile phone users to view their headset’s remaining battery life on their phone, hear calendar alerts, and dial into conference calls.[17]

The Jambox also saw updates in 2011, including the JamChain – a plastic necklace holster to hang a Jambox. Jawbone produced a music video to promote Jambox and JamChain called “Wednesday Was A Good Day”, a Silicon Valley-themed parody of Ice Cube’s hit “Today Was A Good Day.”[27]

That year Jawbone launched LiveAudio for Jambox, a free update to recreate the effects of live music.[28]

Also in 2011, Jawbone announced (and then paused production) of its lifestyle tracking system, UP by Jawbone.[29] The UP wristband and accompanying app was first announced at the TED conference in Scotland in July 2011. Describing the company’s foray into health, Rahman told TechCrunch, “It seems like a big departure, but once we start talking about the things it takes to make this whole category work, we get into things like making it tiny, having a long battery life, making it fashionable, making it waterproof, working with smartphones, having a rich, visual experience on your smartphone and making it social. This is all stuff we do anyway. It comes back around to the mission of your mobile lifestyle.”[30] Highly anticipated by Jawbone fans and the media,[31] the UP lifestyle tracker and app system launched in November 2011. FastCompany Design reported, “If UP works, it could augur a huge shift in the way we approach weight loss and staying healthy.”[32] Jawbone halted production of the product a month later in response to widespread customer claims of issues with charging, syncing, and in some cases, product failure. The guarantee, offered purchasers of UP full refunds for any reason, even if they wanted to keep their wristbands.[29]

In December 2011, Jawbone teamed up with Snoop Dogg and Brazilian rapper Marcelo D2 on a single titled “Obrigado,Brazil.” The video featured the Jambox.[33]

2012 to 2013[edit]

By February 2012, Jawbone was valued at an estimated $1.5 billion.[34] In May 2012, Jawbone introduced Big Jambox,[35] and in August 2012, custom color combinations for Jambox.[36]

In September 2012, with the iPhone 5, Apple introduced a proprietary Lightning connector, incompatible with previous generations of the iPhone. This prompted a shift from plug-in audio docks to wireless speakers that supported Bluetooth and AirPlay.[37] Jawbone had an advertising campaign and released a YouTube video showcasing exploding speakers with outdated audio docks.[38][39]

In November 2012, Jawbone released a new UP and a redesigned iOS app for UP. Since original UP users had been refunded (even if they kept the device), they did not receive a new UP. Jawbone also used the intervening time to add new features to its software, making UP a more powerful life-tracking device.[40]

In February 2013, Jawbone completed an acquisition of design firm Visere and MassiveHealth, best known for its crowd-sourced food app, The Eatery.[41]

In March 2013, Jawbone announced that UP would be available internationally. The company also launched of the Android app for UP.[42] However, this app was not compatible with most Android tablets, such as the Nexus 7. A month later Jawbone announced software to allow developers to access Jawbone UP data and integrate their apps.[43]

Also in April 2013, Jawbone announced its acquisition of BodyMedia, a maker of wearable health tracking devices.[44]

In May 2013 Jawbone added Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, and Robert Wiesenthal, COO of Warner Music Group, to its board of directors.[45] Mindy Mount (from Microsoft) became president of the company at the same time.[46]

Also in May 2013, Jawbone announced customer colors for the Big Jambox.[47]

In September 2013, Jawbone announced the Mini Jambox, and a water resistant leather case for it.[48]

In 2012, CEO and founder Rahman was named to Fortune magazine's 40 Under 40.[49] The following year, he was among Fast Company magazine's most creative people[50] and Vanity Fair magazine's New Establishment[51] and was recognized as one of TIME 100's most influential people of 2014.[52] He talked at TED,[53] DLD,[54] LeWeb,[55] SXSW[56] and the D:Mobile Conference.[57]

In September 2013, Jawbone raised $93 million in debt financing from Silver Lake, Fortress Investment Group, J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo, plus $20 million in equity funding from previous investors.[58]

2014 to present[edit]

In February 2014, a round of investment estimated at $250 million led by the firm of Suhail Rizvi was reported.[59] Mindy Mount left as president about the same time, after less than a year.[60]

By early 2015, a lawsuit from manufacturer Flextronics over $20 million of payment disagreements was reportedly settled.[61][62] In May 2015, Jawbone filed a lawsuit against Fitbit in California State Court, accusing Fitbit of hiring away employees who took confidential and proprietary information along with them.[63] In April, 2015, the company closed $300 million in debt financing from investment management firm BlackRock and ended previous loan agreements.[64]

After a market research firm estimated Jawbone had only 2.8% of the market for fitness trackers, lay-offs were reported in November 2015.[65] In April, 2016, the United States International Trade Commission sided with Fitbit in a patent dispute.[66] Another round of rulings in August 2016 was mixed, but analysts said "the tide has turned in favor of Fitbit".[67] According to a report by Business Insider, as of September 2016, Jawbone has almost no inventory left and has struggled to pay one of its customer service agencies.[68]

Products[edit]

UP[edit]

Announced in November 2011, UP by Jawbone is an activity tracker, the company’s first non-audio product. It consisted of a flexible rubber-coated wristband and accompanying iPhone and Android app,

UP allows users to track their sleep, eating habits, and daily activity including steps taken and calories burned. The wristband is water-resistant, with a rechargeable battery.[69] The wristband features a vibration motor that can be programmed as an alarm to wake users, or act as a reminder when users have been sedentary too long.[7] The UP app includes social-networking software to add motivation. Jawbone partnered with fitness related apps including: IFTTT, LoseIt!, Maxwell Health, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, Notch, RunKeeper, Sleepio, Wello and Withings.[43]

In a 2014 test by a sleep specialist, the Jawbone UP "produced an impressive amount of data" which however showed "little resemblance to [the subject's] actual night of sleep".[70]

UP24[edit]

In November 2013, Jawbone announced the UP24 and a software update. With similar dimensions to the UP, UP24 features the ability to sync wirelessly via Bluetooth to the updated app.[71] UP24 has as a 7-day battery life (depending on use)[72] and the previous 3.5mm connector was replaced by a 2.5mm connector. The software provided more real-time information to help motivate users. The app also suggests goals based on user's habits.[73] Live notifications are provided on the UP24 so users will get push notifications when they get close to their goals. A new activity log gives a snapshot of a user's day and when the UP24 last synced.[73] The 3.0 app also will automatically analyze sleep data from the previous night if users forget to press the button for sleep mode, and lets users edit sleep/wake times.[74]

The UP24 had a slightly different texture on the skin, but the same wrap around design. The button end had a softer and more rounded piece of metal. The indicator lights appear the same as on the UP.[73] In early July 2015, PC Magazine listed UP24 as one of the best fitness trackers for 2015.[75]

UPmove[edit]

In November 2014, Jawbone released the UP move with Smart Coach, a guide to process the user’s data in order to provide advice.[76]

UP for Groups[edit]

In December 2014, Jawbone released UP for Groups, software for corporate wellness programs.[77] Jawbone's Up for Groups program only shares information in the aggregate with employers.[78]

Speakers[edit]

Jambox[edit]

Announced in November 2010, the wireless, portable Bluetooth speaker and speakerphone Jambox was Jawbone’s first product outside of the headset category.[20] Jambox received positive reviews including the New York Times, Popular Science, and USA Today.[79][80][81] The acoustic technology was licensed from SoundMatters that had previously released their own similarly-sized portable Bluetooth speaker, the FoxL.[82]

Big Jambox[edit]

Announced in May 2012, Big Jambox is Jawbone’s second speaker product.[83]

Inside the airtight enclosure are proprietary neodymium drivers and two opposing passive bass radiators along with a newly designed omnidirectional microphone, which is capable of 360-degree sound input with improved echo-cancellation and full duplex communication. The speaker also has LiveAudio "three-dimensional sound" technology built-in and updates to the speaker's driver system are handled through Jawbone's online interface. Connectivity is via a Bluetooth connection, headphone jack, or audio line out. Big Jambox can also connect to multiple devices at once, and users can control volume and play sequences from their device in addition to the speaker.[84] A 2,600mAh rechargeable battery will provide roughly 15 hours of wireless listening time and 500 hours on standby.[85] The Big Jambox speakerphone is intended for more of a conference room setting and while the Jambox has a front-facing microphone, intended to be used facing a user, Big Jambox sports a top-mounted omni-directional microphone to pick up sound from all angles. Big Jambox is rated as class one speakerphone.[86]

Big Jambox used digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms to enhance and optimize output. A review by Engadget lauded the high volume levels that Big Jambox was capable of producing at a small size, but criticized the sound quality because of distortions.[86] Big Jambox aimed to allows listeners to experience three-dimensional sound, a feature that according to Engagdet "comes at the cost of the sound getting a bit mushy in some areas" and only works well with some types of source material.[86]

Mini Jambox[edit]

Announced in September 2013, Mini Jambox was Jawbone’s third speaker product, meant to fit in a pocket or purse.[48] Two neodymium drivers and a passive bass radiator are housed by an extruded aluminum uni-body casing. The speaker comes with LiveAudio and speakerphone capabilities. Along with the speaker is an app which allows the device to be named. The app also allows the user to combine and create playlists from Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, and iTunes.[48]

The Mini Jambox slimness comes from the design of its extruded aluminum uni-body casing.[87] Its external skin is also the internal skeleton.[88] The speaker was designed with computer numerical control, which is typically used to machine mechanical internal details, allowed a variety of external textures.[88]

Headsets[edit]

Jawbone Icon[edit]

Launched in January 2010, Jawbone Icon is Jawbone’s fourth Bluetooth headset. It was the first Jawbone headset with software that could be updated online.[89] CNET called the Icon "quite possibly the most innovative Bluetooth headset yet", being one of the first headsets in the world to have a built-in "operating system."[18]

Six designs corresponded with the names of the six original audio apps – The Hero, The Rogue, The Ace, The Catch, The Thinker and The Bombshell. Jawbone expanded the Icon line with four new designs as part of its Icon EarWear Collection,[90] as well as adding a new voice-messaging app to its software platform called “Thoughts.”[91]

By May, 2015, the Jawbone Updater would no longer work with legacy devices including the Icon.[92]

Jawbone Era[edit]

In January 2011, the company’s fifth Bluetooth headset, Jawbone Era was announced, the first to have a built-in accelerometer and motion sensing software. It functions via motion commands which involve shaking or tapping the headset twice to answer, end, or switch calls. Shaking the headset four times puts the headset in pairing mode.[26]

The Era has almost the same measurements as the Icon. The Era appears rectangular from the front, but is slightly curved to fit to the side of the face. On the top of the headset is a horizontal bar that functions as the multifunction talk button. Right above that is the Micro-USB charging jack.[93]

Icon HD + The Nerd[edit]

In August 2011, Jawbone launched Icon HD + The Nerd. Icon HD had a larger speaker.[94] When paired with The Nerd, an accompanying USB Bluetooth adapter, Icon HD can connect simultaneously two devices (one USB-enabled and one Bluetooth-enabled) and switch between audio and calls.[17][94]

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External links[edit]